Social Anxiety

According to the Social Anxiety Institute:

Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance.

I am absolutely familiar with this feeling. Although I can be charming, outgoing, and gregarious in group situations, I constantly have this feeling of being negatively judged. Although it surprises some people, I am an introvert. Spending time with people makes me uncomfortable and tired. To recharge my batteries, I need to be alone. I can “bend” my introversion when I need to be on stage or give a presentation, but it is always hard work.

Next week is Dreamforce and there are events being thrown all about town. One example is the MoMa party being thrown by the best event person I have ever known, Sandra. (Those who know her, know this is true) I could go to the party, but all I can think about is how tiring it would be. I know I would meet up with colleagues and friends and probably have a good time. I also know the artwork at the MoMa is terrific. However, on the other hand is my social anxiety whispering negative thoughts into my inner ear.

Sometimes, the good guy wins this internal battle and sometimes the bad guy wins. You might be asking, “Glen, who gives a shit? Why aren’t you blogging about Design Tools and UI Patterns?”

Good question.

I guess the reason is that I want to give an example to the people who have social anxiety issues that you can still prosper and still advocate for yourself. I want to bond with my tribe, wherever they are. I often call them Misfit Toys.

If you want to be a great designer, you have to understand yourself and others. If you are a misfit toy, there is always room on my island and I would be happy to help.

Startup People

What makes someone a really good employee for a startup?

I was at a company culture outing a few years ago (small startup) and some people said they wanted to work there because they wanted to be part of a rocket ship. They thought the previous experience of the leadership team was such that the company would obviously be part of a huge new success story. This really freaked me out at the time.

Every startup is exactly like a rocket ship, except that there is no place to sit, no engine, no wings, no navigation and no idea how rockets work. In other words, it’s just a dream, a vision of the future. It’s not a rocket ship at all. You don’t want to hire people who want to be on the ship. You want to hire people who want to BUILD the ship, because it doesn’t exist yet.

Imagine you build half a ship and start flying it into space and then realize that you completely forgot oxygen masks and everyone is going to die in moments. You want people who can build an oxygen system out of random parts, while flying a thousand miles an hour. You want people who climb out on the wing and jerry-rig a new kind of engine just because it is needed at the time. You want people who think quickly, collaborate together and figure it out. You don’t want the people who manage a large organization effectively. You don’t want solid B+ workers. Each person needs to be the A-Team, with a specialty and a mentality of working through problems.

We all know these sorts of people. They create systems from scratch. They find the one vendor who can unlock a huge use case. It’s not scalable at all and won’t survive the long-term growth, but it gets the job done in the short run. A startup needs these people desperately. You don’t break out of orbit without them.

Of course, as you grow and get into orbit, you need a completely different set of people. We all are perfect people if you just adjust the situation and timing. Are you in the right position at the right time?